Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Can Vixen GP2 be autoguided

mount
  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 vineyard

vineyard

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 13 Sep 2019

Posted 12 October 2019 - 04:42 PM

Hello,

 

I have an old Vixen GP2 with MT-1 motors added on RA & Dec.  I'm trying to figure out ways of trying to get it to track automatically, and wanted to see if either of these might be possible:

 

Option 1: is there a way of connecting a CMOS camera to autoguide through PHD?  I think the main challenge would be to convert the output signal from the software to the motors b/c the motors take the old-fashioned circular DIN pins (see picture here) not the old telephone style ST4/RJ11 cables?  Has any genius already built something that can do this (or perhaps its a standard electronics kit and I'm being an idiot!)?

 

Option 2: is there a way of connecting a SynScan handset to the motor output cables?  The Vixen Skysensor cabling used to allow that from what I can see from old manuals but those seem very difficult to get now.  I don't really want to install a full SynScan GOTO kit b/c the Vixen MT-1 motors are so quiet - so was wondering if maybe there was a way of connecting just the handset?

 

Option 1 would be my preferred option.  I don't really need GOTO, just the ability for the mount to track automatically.

 

Are there any other ideas I'm being blind to?

 

Thank you!

 

 



#2 georgian82

georgian82

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 533
  • Joined: 16 Jan 2016
  • Loc: Healdsburg, California

Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:00 PM

Hi there!

I installed a GoTo system for my GP2 from these guys:

http://astroproservi...ontrol-systems/

I can’t remember the exact model I got but I can get that for you later if this is of interest. The motors abs control box are of very high quality and the motors are very quiet.

With this system, you can run everything fully automatic through ASCOM (EQMOD for telescope control, Cartes du Ciel, PHD2 for guiding and NINA or SGP for imaging acquisition for example).

Cheers

#3 Don Taylor

Don Taylor

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1073
  • Joined: 12 Jul 2009
  • Loc: Broken Arrow (Tulsa Area) Oklahoma

Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:11 PM

I've installed a similar system - https://sites.google...-goto-drive-kit

 

Seems to have the same functionality as the one linked above.  Strangely, both come from two small companies in Ukraine.  I'm very happy with mine.  BTW - the current kit includes everything ready to install as in the photos - the instructions on the website make it seem like you have to wire up the motors but not so. Also, now the kit ships with a small 5 button hand control instead of the joystick shown in the website photos. Excellent communication and help too.



#4 vineyard

vineyard

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 13 Sep 2019

Posted 13 October 2019 - 09:33 AM

Wow, thanks - I knew asking would help!

 

Hi there!

I installed a GoTo system for my GP2 from these guys:

http://astroproservi...ontrol-systems/

I can’t remember the exact model I got but I can get that for you later if this is of interest. The motors abs control box are of very high quality and the motors are very quiet.

With this system, you can run everything fully automatic through ASCOM (EQMOD for telescope control, Cartes du Ciel, PHD2 for guiding and NINA or SGP for imaging acquisition for example).

Cheers

They also seem to sell just the control box.  I wonder if that will work with the existing motors - will email them to ask.  How stable is the firmware?  Do you use it with a PC or w a handcontroller?  Can you use it via wifi with a mobile or tablet?

 

I've installed a similar system - https://sites.google...-goto-drive-kit

 

Seems to have the same functionality as the one linked above.  Strangely, both come from two small companies in Ukraine.  I'm very happy with mine.  BTW - the current kit includes everything ready to install as in the photos - the instructions on the website make it seem like you have to wire up the motors but not so. Also, now the kit ships with a small 5 button hand control instead of the joystick shown in the website photos. Excellent communication and help too.

Based on the manual, this one seems to allow Wifi-based smartphone control - is that how you use it?  Is that stable?

 

I'm Mac & iOS based - I wonder if their firmware works with either of those.  You've given me directions to research, so thank you v much!  All user feedback v welcome too btw as I dig more.

 

Cheers!


Edited by vineyard, 13 October 2019 - 09:33 AM.


#5 Don Taylor

Don Taylor

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1073
  • Joined: 12 Jul 2009
  • Loc: Broken Arrow (Tulsa Area) Oklahoma

Posted 13 October 2019 - 11:31 AM

I''ve used the mount with my ancient iPhone 4S and the SynScan Pro app and it works well - although in my case the tiny screen on the iPhone is a real bother. I should get a tablet I suppose.  So yes, it does work with wi-fi and smartphone control.

 

I don't have a laptop or tablet - I have an iMac and it will connect with the mount's wi-fi but the one time I tried I couldn't get SkySafari 4 to control the mount.  Did not mess with it anymore as it's unlikely I'll ever use the iMac with the mount. Probably need a later version of SkySafari - but I don't really use the program anyway.

 

I'm a long time star-hopper and mostly I've been using the GP2 with EqStar as a dual axis drive with the hand control as I can move the scope and change from slewing rate to very fine (slow) control from there.  Of course, some times I just loosen the axis locks and manually slew the scope and then fine tune with the drives - but more often I'm slewing with the drives (not the fastest but OK) and view seated.  I also have a Celestron ASGT but I use the go-to only rarely with that mount as well.

 

But - back to your original question - when I bought the GP2 (used) it had the single axis drive and the previous owner had tapped into the controller to add an autoguiding function via an added jack. Obviously only for RA in this case. So there do seem to be ways to add autoguiding via mods but I have no knowledge of what has been one - possibly for dual axis as well, I don't know. There could be some old threads here on CN.

 

Altogether - I bought the EqStar because my original single-axis controller gave up the ghost. There are simple fixes (replace a chip) but I decided to motorize both axes instead.  I'll eventually repair the Vixen controller at some point and keep as a spare - or sell it.

 

 

 

Edited to add the following:

 

I should mention - the RA stepper motor does make a faint, high-pitched warble sound when tracking. Not loud or offensive to me - but it's there. Slewing is much quieter than my ASGT which sounds like a coffee grinder when slewing.


Edited by Don Taylor, 13 October 2019 - 11:42 AM.

  • vineyard likes this

#6 georgian82

georgian82

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 533
  • Joined: 16 Jan 2016
  • Loc: Healdsburg, California

Posted 14 October 2019 - 03:50 PM

Wow, thanks - I knew asking would help!

 

They also seem to sell just the control box.  I wonder if that will work with the existing motors - will email them to ask.  How stable is the firmware?  Do you use it with a PC or w a handcontroller?  Can you use it via wifi with a mobile or tablet?

 

Based on the manual, this one seems to allow Wifi-based smartphone control - is that how you use it?  Is that stable?

 

I'm Mac & iOS based - I wonder if their firmware works with either of those.  You've given me directions to research, so thank you v much!  All user feedback v welcome too btw as I dig more.

 

Cheers!

I don't think you can use your existing motors with their control box unless the connection between the two makes it possible. The motors that come with the control box are belt driven and very quiet by the way and very high quality. The firmware is very stable as well...I have never had any issues whatsoever. The initial motor and control box setup is a bit tricky but I would be happy to help you with that now that I know how to do it =)

 

I don't think you can wifi using this specific control box...

 

I don't use a hand controller...the control box is ASCOM compliant (and INDI as well) so you can essentially use any program that is also ASCOM compliant to run the mount. At first I was using EQMOD and Cartes du Ciel and now I use EQMOD with NINA since I just do astrophotography. Cartes du Ciel is nice if you are just viewing in my opinion as it allows you to look at a sky chart and move the mount/telescope around with a click of the mouse. NINA on the other hand will control all of the astrophotography equipment such as camera, filter wheel, guide camera, and it will work in conjunction with EQMOD for mount control and PHD2 for autoguiding. 

 

I will post pictures of the setup later this week for you to see the connection of the motors with the control box. 

 

Cheers,

 

Sebastian


Edited by georgian82, 14 October 2019 - 03:52 PM.


#7 vineyard

vineyard

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 13 Sep 2019

Posted 14 October 2019 - 04:53 PM

Thanks both!

 

Yes please to the pictures Sebastian (if that's not too much hassle).  Good to hear about the firmware being stable.  Do you run your autoguide camera direct into the ST4 port on the EQdrive?  Yes I suspect the motors will have to change with both those products.

 

Don, I've already been in touch w Alexander at EQStar after your pointer, and he's been v helpful & prompt.  He was explaining that while they also have a simpler product called SimpleDream which doesn't run with belt motors, that has a limited range of 15 degrees and a slow speed of x80, whereas EQStar can move across the sky, can flip meridian and can move upto x800 (does that speed & meridian-flip work in practice for you?).  Also EQStar is EQMOD compatible but the simpler version isn't.  The autoguide connection can run directly from an ST4 port in the camera to the EQStar (they have another product called GuideDream which would be needed if there's no ST4 port on the camera).

 

If all else is equal between the two wrt performance, software-compatibility, stabliity etc, the wifi capability of EQStar does seem like icing on the cake for outreach to casual interest (like family members who would otherwise be put off by too much laptop based fiddling lol.gif).

 

Maybe there's another lease of life yet in the GP2?! fingerscrossed.gif 



#8 georgian82

georgian82

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 533
  • Joined: 16 Jan 2016
  • Loc: Healdsburg, California

Posted 14 October 2019 - 07:30 PM

Thanks both!

 

Yes please to the pictures Sebastian (if that's not too much hassle).  Good to hear about the firmware being stable.  Do you run your autoguide camera direct into the ST4 port on the EQdrive?  Yes I suspect the motors will have to change with both those products.

 

Don, I've already been in touch w Alexander at EQStar after your pointer, and he's been v helpful & prompt.  He was explaining that while they also have a simpler product called SimpleDream which doesn't run with belt motors, that has a limited range of 15 degrees and a slow speed of x80, whereas EQStar can move across the sky, can flip meridian and can move upto x800 (does that speed & meridian-flip work in practice for you?).  Also EQStar is EQMOD compatible but the simpler version isn't.  The autoguide connection can run directly from an ST4 port in the camera to the EQStar (they have another product called GuideDream which would be needed if there's no ST4 port on the camera).

 

If all else is equal between the two wrt performance, software-compatibility, stabliity etc, the wifi capability of EQStar does seem like icing on the cake for outreach to casual interest (like family members who would otherwise be put off by too much laptop based fiddling lol.gif).

 

Maybe there's another lease of life yet in the GP2?! fingerscrossed.gif

Not a problem. I will post a few pictures as soon as time permits. 

 

Even though the control box does have an ST4 port, I don't use it as it is not the best choice for autoguiding (many reasons are discussed throughout CN forum).

 

I run all the equipment using ASCOM so I actually connect the guide camera (ASI290MM mini) to the USB port of the imaging camera (ASI1600MM) and PHD2 guiding software picks it up without a problem. Now, if you are going to be using a DSLR for imaging, I guess you would simply connect the guide camera directly to the USB port of your laptop and run PHD2 that way through ASCOM. 



#9 Don Taylor

Don Taylor

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1073
  • Joined: 12 Jul 2009
  • Loc: Broken Arrow (Tulsa Area) Oklahoma

Posted 14 October 2019 - 08:32 PM

Thanks both!

 

Yes please to the pictures Sebastian (if that's not too much hassle).  Good to hear about the firmware being stable.  Do you run your autoguide camera direct into the ST4 port on the EQdrive?  Yes I suspect the motors will have to change with both those products.

 

Don, I've already been in touch w Alexander at EQStar after your pointer, and he's been v helpful & prompt.  He was explaining that while they also have a simpler product called SimpleDream which doesn't run with belt motors, that has a limited range of 15 degrees and a slow speed of x80, whereas EQStar can move across the sky, can flip meridian and can move upto x800 (does that speed & meridian-flip work in practice for you?).  Also EQStar is EQMOD compatible but the simpler version isn't.  The autoguide connection can run directly from an ST4 port in the camera to the EQStar (they have another product called GuideDream which would be needed if there's no ST4 port on the camera).

 

If all else is equal between the two wrt performance, software-compatibility, stabliity etc, the wifi capability of EQStar does seem like icing on the cake for outreach to casual interest (like family members who would otherwise be put off by too much laptop based fiddling lol.gif).

 

Maybe there's another lease of life yet in the GP2?! fingerscrossed.gif

Yes - I actually found the SimpleDream first and thought about it - but I liked the fully enclosed motors, hand control, and more features for the small difference in cost - so I went with the EqStar.  As I said previously, I don't often use go-to but i thought smartphone (or eventually tablet) control and SkySafari or similar might be a cool toy to play with once in a while.  The very limited go-to of the SimpleDream seemed just that - very limited.

 

Slewing is a little slower than my ASGT - but last night it was fast enough as I worked my way along objects of interest - so each slew was relatively short and quick.  

I can move the scope anywhere in the sky using the motors but have not used meridian flip or any of the ASCOM/EQMOD capabilities. Sorry - I have no opinion regarding the AP features.

 

Edited to add one more thing:  Above, you say "if all else is equal between the two wrt performance, software-compatibility, stabliity etc".....    I don't have an answer for that.  I found the EqStar and ordered it, then the next day stumbled on the EqDrive (AstroProService).  Had I found the EqDrive first I might have bought that instead.  I've only had the EqStar for about 2 months and used it about 4 or 5 times.  But I have no experience with the EqDrive. It could be better, worse, or the same as EqStar. I'm strictly visual and an experienced star-hopper so don't use go-to much. On paper - they seem about the same (The EqDrive mentions wi-fi compatibility but I guess you need a third party dongle or ??? I don't know).  But beyond a comparison on paper I don't have a clue how they would compare in terms of performance, compatibility, stability. No way without living with both. Sorry to muddy the waters.


Edited by Don Taylor, 14 October 2019 - 11:45 PM.


#10 dpaigen

dpaigen

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 52
  • Joined: 30 Jul 2019

Posted 14 October 2019 - 10:00 PM

I'm a little confused by these products.  They both require a host pc or phone in order to provide N-star alignment and goto, right?  Will either of them track without a pc or phone in the mix?  Do either of them include PEC?



#11 Don Taylor

Don Taylor

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1073
  • Joined: 12 Jul 2009
  • Loc: Broken Arrow (Tulsa Area) Oklahoma

Posted 14 October 2019 - 11:23 PM

I'm a little confused by these products.  They both require a host pc or phone in order to provide N-star alignment and goto, right?  Will either of them track without a pc or phone in the mix?  Do either of them include PEC?

I mostly use the GP2 with EqStar without a phone or tablet. It comes with a small hand control with the typical 4 buttons for +/- RA and DEC and a 5th button for selecting between 4 slewing speeds and Sidereal, Lunar, Solar tracking rates. The 5th button is used in combination with the other 4 buttons to select slewing or tracking rate.

 

So - in the simplest form - its a dual axis motor driven system with manual (wired) control.   It has no built-in go-to capability.

 

To provide go-to it needs an outboard computing device such as a PC, Mac, SmartPhone, or Tablet.   I have SynScan Pro (app) on my phone and it has alignment routines and go-to just like a Skywatcher mount. You can also slew the scope manually from the smartphone.  e.g. the smartphone essentially duplicates everything on a Skywatcher wired go-to controller. I would imagine a tablet is the same except for a larger more practical display.

 

The SynScan Pro app has a PEC function but I have not used it.  I have never used ASCOM /EQMOD and am not familiar with their fuctionality either. Sorry I don't have more info..



#12 photoracer18

photoracer18

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2812
  • Joined: 02 Sep 2013
  • Loc: Martinsburg, WV

Posted Yesterday, 05:55 PM

If you have a Vixen drive controller (DD-1 to DD-4 or DMD-1 to DMD-4) there is a how to on line for adding an ST-4 port on the controller. The last version of the controller actually had one put in from the factory (DD-4 or -5 but can't remember which one).



#13 georgian82

georgian82

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 533
  • Joined: 16 Jan 2016
  • Loc: Healdsburg, California

Posted Today, 01:35 AM

Ok so here are a few pictures (sorry about the quality and lighting) of the EQDrive Goto system I installed for my GP2 mount which is fully ASCOM compliant. 

 

GP2   1
GP2   2
GP2   3
GP2  4


#14 vineyard

vineyard

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 13 Sep 2019

Posted Today, 07:00 AM

Thanks Don.  Yes you're right, short of finding someone having used both, the only way to compare is to ask Qs of the companies & users, and then make an informed leap of faith smile.gif

Did you find yourself having to deal with any bugs in the installation of your EQStar (whether that's the physical installation w wonky bits of screw sizing etc, or with the configuration & pairing with your iPhone)?

Sebastian, thanks for the photos - v helpful.  (I didn't realise that EQdrive uses circular plugs into the motor units until I saw your photo!).  Btw, am I seeing things or is that an ASI in the polar shaft in the 2nd photo?  You mentioned in an earlier post that you had some glitches when installing it?

 

Have either of you noticed any backlash or slippage?  And what sort of load do you normally carry when using these (visual or AP)?

 

Sorry for more Qs (in the absence of someone who's tried both, this is the only way smile.gif ).  I've got a few more Qs in to each company, and based on their responses, I think I will pull the trigger soon.  Getting a bit excited about a new little project while the winter rains come!

 

Cheers


Edited by vineyard, Today, 07:01 AM.


#15 Der_Pit

Der_Pit

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 843
  • Joined: 07 Jul 2018
  • Loc: La Palma

Posted Today, 07:54 AM

My first mount was a GP-DX, with the MT motors and DD-1 controller.  Once I started looking into AP, I followed the guides mentioned by photoracer18 and added an ST-4 compatible connector, and was guiding that way for some time.  Best done with a dedicated guide camera that has an ST-4 output.

If you mainly go for DSLR+Lens a simple guide scope setup would do.

But no GoTo/pointing that way.  And there was quite some backlash.

 

I then updated the mount with the SynScan EQ5 upgrade kit.  Much nicer, with fast goto and full control via eqmod.  Not a cheap solution though, and no real solution against the (DEC) backlash (although a clear improvement, as you can program some HW corretion in the eqmod driver).



#16 georgian82

georgian82

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 533
  • Joined: 16 Jan 2016
  • Loc: Healdsburg, California

Posted Today, 11:35 AM

Yes, the cables connection to the motors are round. They have teeth and you can twist to lock it in place...it is a very secured connection. 
 
Here is my setup. The scope rig including rings/dovetail bar, guide camera, imaging camera and filter wheel weighs about 10-11 lbs. I am using two counter weights to balance, an 8lbs and a 3lbs (I believe). 
 
The RA axis has a QHY Polemaster for polar alignment. 
 
PHD2 does say there is some backlash but with careful balancing and a good calibration (via PHD2) my guiding oscillates between 0.5-1.3" RMS depending on where the scope is pointing and the seeing. 
 
IMG 0085

Edited by georgian82, Today, 11:37 AM.



CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: mount



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics